The number of female CEOs in the UK has risen to its highest ever level, with 13 new female bosses being appointed in 2022.


The Korn Ferry report has revealed that of the 42 CEO appointments made last year, 31% were women

A new report from management consultancy firm Korn Ferry revealed that 42 CEO appointments were made last year, with 31% of these being women.

The number of retail CEOs hired in 2022 was over double that of 2021, as many former CEOs have now retired or stayed longer than planned due to the pandemic.

Of those appointed in the past 12 months, 50% were “first-time CEOs” compared with 61% in 2021.

Only one ethnically diverse chief executive was appointed last year. Shirine Khoury-Haq is now group chief executive at the Co-op following her promotion from chief financial officer.

Of all of the CEO changes in 2022, 43% were in the fashion and luxury sector, 21% were in grocery and 26% were in general merchandise, pharmacy, beauty, specialist and home.

Korn Ferry’s notable chief executive appointments to watch in 2023 include Lionel Desclée at The Very Group and Régis Schultz at JD Sports

Korn Ferry managing director Sarah Lim said: “Last year was the busiest year for board and CEO appointments in over a decade. This was unsurprising given the pent-up demand for boardroom change post pandemic, but what was particularly notable was the desire by many boards to recruit more women into key CEO roles. 

“This is exciting progress in achieving greater boardroom diversity, particularly given the influence that the CEO has, both as a role model and with his/her power to influence the development of a more diverse leadership gene pool in the next generation of leaders.

“The other significant development over the past year was the increase in the number of first-time CEOs appointed to run publicly quoted companies.

“A number of factors have contributed to this, not least the growing disparity in CEO pay between privately owned and publicly quoted companies; and the perceived risk/reward ratio versus the level of public scrutiny when leading a PLC-listed company.

“A number of proven CEOs have now either opted to go plural or chosen to work in private or private-equity-backed businesses post pandemic, resulting in a shortage of proven CEO candidates willing to remain running public companies in the short term.”